08.10.11

The Spy in the Condé Nast Elevator

A Twitter account chronicles comments allegedly overheard in Condé Nast’s elevator. By Isabel Wilkinson and Jacob Bernstein.

Updated 8/11: Multiple sources tell The Daily Beast that the anonymous tweeter is John Jannuzzi, a style editor at Lucky magazine who formerly ran social-media operations at fashion public-relations firm Starworks Group and maintains his own fashion blog and Twitter account.  According to one source, Jannuzzi “flies under the radar because he is not particularly well known or senior,” and has a “knack for anony-tweeting.” Another source says that disciplinary actions are “about to unfold within Condé today or tomorrow.” When contacted for comment, Jannuzzi forwarded the email to Lucky PR, which responded that corporate communications would follow up. By the end of Thursday, this remained unconfirmed as the email and a call to corporate communications were not returned.

Following a day of speculation about the identity of the person behind @CondeElevator, the account appears to have gone dark. "Girl or Guy #1 [in elevator alone]: This got really crazy. Love my job. Better stop," the account tweeted on Thursday.

Read the original story below:

There are a few unspoken rules about the elevators at Condé Nast: don’t brag about your weekend in East Hampton, don’t make fun of another rider for her brownies, and—for God’s sake—if you’re standing next to Anna Wintour, shut the hell up.

But now everything Condé Nast employees say may be used against them— thanks to a satirical Twitter account called @CondeElevator that anonymously tweets statements overheard in the hallowed elevators at 4 Times Square.

The tweets include catty comments about calories, name-drops about Gucci and the south of France, plenty of “dudeitor” jokes—and, of course, convey a universal fear of Wintour. One sample tweet: “Woman #1 to Woman #2, holding an omelet: “What's the occasion?” Woman #2: “... huh?” Woman #1: "I would need an occasion to eat that.” And another: “Old dudeitor: You goin' to that thing tonight? Young dudeitor: What thing? Old dudeitor: Ah, guess not.” And another: “Vogue Asst & Anna Wintour in packed elevator. VA: Blah blah Duke & Duchess of Windsor—AW: Cambridge. Duke & Duchess of CAMBRIDGE. VA: I'm sorry.”

The account, which presents all tweets as if they are true, was launched just last Saturday, but it already has amassed more than 50,000 followers. In less than a week, @CondeElevator has become a dishy fly-on-the-wall at a company known for its strict rules, shone a light on the intimidating culture that still exists in the rarified halls of Old Media, and incited a massive witch hunt as outlets race to unveil the author.

Gawker tried to narrow down the options on Wednesday, tracing the feedback to its source—the first 15 people it started following. Among them were several media reporters, including three GQ editors, Teen Voguers, and a few Observer writers. Because most of the tweets are about staffers coming and going from Vogue, the author of the account is thought to be an employee at one of the magazines that use the same elevator bank—anywhere from the fourth to 16th floors. That includes Teen Vogue, GQ, Glamour, Architectural Digest, and Golf Digest. (Though some thought the culprit was a Vanity Fair employee, those folks are on a different elevator bank.)

While many suspect the rogue tweeter works at GQ, Teen Vogue also is a strong possibility. One rumored candidate there is Erin Kaplan, the senior director of public relations. Kaplan denies this. “I am not the writer behind @CondeElevator and I can’t tell you if the individual is part of the Teen Vogue staff as the handle is anonymous and we don’t know,” she said in an email to The Daily Beast on Wednesday.

One Condé Nast employee suspects that the mysterious tweeter could be an intern because “it should be salacious and it missed the mark.” This source guesses it’s “someone from one of the men’s books; a guy who has disdain for the hollowness of a lot of people in the building, a young guy who’s just like ‘Are you kidding me?’ Like a Details intern.” 

After speculatation reached fever pitch on Tuesday, the account appeared to go dark. "Girl or Guy #1 [in elevator alone]: This got really crazy. Love my job. Better stop," the account tweeted on Wednesday.

Because elevator culture at Condé Nast is infamous (and was even spoofed in The Devil Wears Prada), it seems it was only a matter of time before @CondeElevator was born. According to one employee, a high school–like hierarchy exists in the elevators there. If you’re a younger employee or an intern, you stay quiet. More senior editors, on the other hand, are chattier—and, especially in the case of The New Yorker—are known to conduct their business loudly as they shuttle between floors. At Vanity Fair, interns and new hires reportedly are given the same rule: never talk in the elevators, except to say hello. Ever. Another source says it’s always the “people who you could care less about” who chatter the most in the elevators.

One staffer says it has become something of a sport to guess where people work before they hit the elevator buttons. Vogue girls, the employee says, “take pride in hitting 12,” while “there’s always a little competition between 20 (New Yorker editorial) and 22 (Vanity Fair).” The golden rule for all riders, of course, is that if you’re in the elevator with Anna Wintour, you STFU. (Tweeted @CondeElevator: “[silence] [silence] [silence] [silence] [silence] [silence] [silence] [silence] Summer Intern: “Was that ...?” Intern #2: “Yeah” #annawintour). The same goes for Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter. “David Remnick [The New Yorker’s editor in chief] should get the same respect,” said the source, “but sadly he blends in too well.”

The fact that this account even exists in the first place, though, seems like a ripe metaphor for a company transitioning into a new world. “There used to be such a veil of secrecy and fear, and the fact that someone has the balls to do it says a lot about where the company has gone,” one Condé Nast employee said. “It just doesn’t necessarily wield the same power and fear it used to ... I think people would have been much more afraid to do this five years ago.”

Recently, elevator chatter at 4 Times Square has turned meta, as employees have taken to joking about the @CondeElevator feed to break the silence. “Have you seen that Twitter feed yet?” one person asked this week, according to a source. Suspicious eyes darted around the elevator. “Do you think what we’re saying right now will be on it?”

The tweets include catty comments about calories, name-drops about Gucci—and convey a universal fear of Anna Wintour.

Though the witch hunt is on for the author, it’s unlikely he or she will come out of the woodwork. There’s nothing on the feed that could potentially constitute rule breaking, but because of the company’s tight-lipped corporate culture, it seems like something that could get an employee in a lot of hot water. “I’m waiting for the day someone gets fired because of it,” an employee told The Daily Beast. (A spokesperson for the company, meanwhile, would not comment on corporate policy.)

“We have no idea if this is real or made up and don’t know who is behind it,” the spokesperson said, “But it certainly suggests that many people care a great deal about what happens at Condé Nast.” As @CondeElevator’s followers continue to creep up, that much, we know, is true.